Anorak News | Not So Sweet Sixteen

Not So Sweet Sixteen

by | 27th, October 2003

‘ENGLAND’S rugby players look anything but world beaters at the moment, but at least they are still in the World Cup.

England must try harder

They were given an almighty scare yesterday by a Samoan team that played some sublime rugby at times to lead 10-0 midway through the first half and 22-21 midway through the second half.

In the end, England recovered to win 35-22, courtesy of two late tries, but the match has provided England with a much-needed “wake-up call”.

The mask of invincibility that has surrounded the No.1 ranked side has well and truly slipped and captain Martin Johnson was moved to admit after the match that they will struggle to beat Uruguay next week unless they pick up their game.

“England,” says the Telegraph, “were discordant through the midfield and flustered in their control of the ball.

“Their penalty count was once again far higher than their usual single figure target. England were lucky not to have a player yellow carded. The ledger of negatives was substantial.”

The only people who do not appear unduly concerned by the performance are the players themselves, most of whom seem to be writing a column for one paper or another.

Lewis Moody admits that England played right into the Samoans’ hands in the first-half but urges England fans to look at the broader picture.

“World Cups,” he says, “are won on the back of hard games like the one we had yesterday.” They are also lost in games like yesterday’s.

Scrum-half Matt Dawson says in his Telegraph column England got what they expected, which only makes their inability to handle it the more worrying.

Indeed, such was their difficulties in coping with 15 “highly motivated and very talented Samoans” that at one stage England had 16 players on the pitch.

And the Indy says World Cup organisers are to investigate how Dan Luger joined the action while Mike Tindall, the man he was supposedly replacing, was being treated for an injury on the pitch.

If England are to progress, they might need to slip a few extra players into their XV.

Elsewhere, Arsenal went to the top of the Premiership again after a 1-1 draw at Charlton took them a point ahead of Chelsea and two points ahead of Manchester United, who lost 3-1 at home to Fulham.

And in the Times Michael “Ned” Kelly continues his memoirs of his time as head of security at Old Trafford with tales of former chairman Martin Edwards’ fetish for looking under the doors of the cubicles in ladies’ toilets.

All of which is much more interesting than anything any of the England rugby players have got to say.’

Posted: 27th, October 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink